The day a CEO walks into the office wearing jeans is the day everyone knows suits are no longer required. No matter how many changes in policy or how many communications from HR, nothing demonstrates a behaviour is OK more than a CEO’s action.

Similarly, when the CEO challenges leaders to consider if every individual in their team would say they belong in that team, a focus is achieved in a moment that no HR initiative could accomplish in a year. This is the question our CEO posed to our leaders. He went on to ask: could everyone in your team say they can speak up and be heard? If not, he said, you, as a leader, are not maximising the potential of your team to grow our business.

This support from the top is, I believe, more vital to drive Inclusion and Diversity (I and D) than to create almost any other change. The benefits of I and D, and how to achieve inclusion at work, are still not widely understood by managers and leaders. We need CEOs to shine a light on this area, so people take the time to look.

On the back of our CEO’s support, we’ve created a sustainability commitment that 50% of all managers will be women by 2025. This is one of our six ‘beacon’ public commitments, from a starting position of 37% at the end of 2018 and improvements year-on-year. Again, most importantly, the commitment focuses minds.

So, we’ve taken the vital first step: we have the attention of our leaders. The next step is to raise awareness and understanding, and to shape our company culture. Only by changing how we think and how we do things can we create an inclusive environment.

To change mindsets, we’ve kicked off a communications campaign based on the truth of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. We’re challenging stereotypical images of what leaders, and innovators, look like, with the key message that great performance, innovation and excellence have no age, gender or colour. We’re also asking senior leaders to speak in a personal way – using natural language, rather than ‘corporate speak’ – about what belonging in the company means to them and to invite others to share their thoughts on the same.

Our messages make clear that creating teams where people feel they belong is a win-win. The company finds the best talent, unleashes potential, creates innovation, and makes better decisions. That’s the business case. But, more importantly, we’re clear that striving to make the workplace better for everyone is part of our culture.

We’re helping leaders deliver on that promise by embedding inclusive leadership development into our core leadership curricula. The importance of systems and processes to culture is not forgotten, with a review of our talent processes end-to-end, including, for example, the use of gender-neutral languages and images in job ads.

We’re promoting the use of local employee groups, such as women’s networks, in our countries to create workplaces where people can share common concerns and interests, reinforcing a sense of belonging. And we’re starting to listen more through new, more frequent Culture and Engagement surveys, with results broken down by workforce groups and gender. Interviews with women in our senior leadership were important, too. These identified the significance for many women of their immediate manager, a mentor or a coach, in supporting their careers. We’re building our mentoring programme and offering development in coaching skills in partnership with the International Coaching Federation.

But if there was a silver bullet to achieve inclusion and diversity in our workplaces, you would not be reading this article. Coca-Cola HBC, and no doubt your organization, would have jumped on the bandwagon years ago, and ‘Inclusion and Diversity’ would no longer need to be an item on the agenda.

Our starting point at Coca-Cola HBC is that of a company with multiple countries and huge variations in national cultures and maturity on I and D issues. Solutions need to be as diverse as the diversity we’re trying to create in our business. Other organisations will have different starting positions and different approaches will be required. However, I believe all will need to start with culture, and that can only be led from the top.

Dr Diane Sinclair is Group Employee Relations Director at Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company